Whether for work, leisure or traveling, driving at night has become usual, especially in big cities. Because of that, taking precautions has become more important than ever. But what exactly would they be?
Is it Safe to Drive at 3am?
There will be risks at all times. However, if we study them, we may realize that some of them are internal, that is, depend primarily on ourselves. In short, if we make sure to put ourselves and our car in top shape and design a plan of action in case a problem appears, we will make driving as safe as possible – regardless of the time.
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What are the Dangers of Driving at 3am?
Those dangers come mostly from the outside. Even though you only drive in your best conditions and keep your car well-maintained, external circumstances will always exist, and you cannot really change them. Here are the most important dangers of driving at 3am:
1. High incidence of drunk or fatigued drivers
We all know this is wildly problematic, governments everywhere promote awareness campaigns from time to time, we see the consequences in practice every time an accident appears in the news, but we still do not change our behavior as we should.
Many people always try their limits with driving after an event where they had alcohol, whether it was a simple glass of wine or nightclub-level drinking. The likelihood of coming across a drunk driver on the road is higher on weekend nights because it is when most leisure events happen and because the number of cars on the street sharply decreases.
On highways, it is also possible to come across an exhausted driver, especially in trucks. While these are not under the influence of alcohol, their reactions are impaired nonetheless, and they are driving much heavier vehicles which are much more difficult to control than a car.
This is certainly the most serious reason why driving late at night is generally unsafe.
2. Reduced possibilities to react to events
When driving at night, the only source of illumination on which you can truly rely is your car’s lights. City streets are usually well-lit only in regions of heavy traffic, while finding good illumination on highways depends on the region and how it is maintained. Unfortunately, road illumination is a tough lottery to play.
Even if your car has the latest lighting technologies and is well-kept to have all of them in proper conditions, you will still have low visibility when driving at night. It takes longer for you to spot anything on the road that requires attention, such as a pedestrian or an animal trying to cross, a broken vehicle, or even an interruption on the road.
Considering you take longer to see any of that at night, and you are usually driving at higher speeds than usual, you have significantly less time to react to the issue. Applying the brakes with full force may still not be enough, and swerving at high speed usually causes more harm than good. All that makes yet another solid reason why driving late at night is generally unsafe.
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3. Difficulty to find assistance
In short, many places are closed late at night, so there will be fewer options where to go in case you need urgent help. It is difficult to get help even from residences since most people will be sleeping, not to mention their first reaction will usually be hostile.
Fortunately, the number of services of emergency assistance has grown at a high rate over the past years. Insurance providers, for example, offer a list of options to help in case of need, especially in big cities and on important highways, regardless of the date or time.
The biggest reason why it is not possible to disregard this as a reason to be mentioned here is that this difficulty is still significant in remote regions, such as small towns or secondary roads.
How to Drive Safely at 3am?
First of all, keep in mind that we can only do so much – there will always be the aforementioned external factors. On the other hand, we can take care of internal factors, like keeping ourselves and our car in top shape, planning how to drive where we want and to come back, and keeping note of emergency contacts.
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1. Always be in your best condition
Considering this, anything below top priority is wrong. Fortunately, it is quite simple to stay in a good shape to drive: the best first step is something as simple as getting enough sleep. It will give you energy and make your senses work properly.
This is essential because the car, the people traveling with you, and the others around you are all relying on you. Even the best car cannot make up for lack of attention or for poor reactions to an urgent issue caused by impairments of any type.
Aside from that, you must also invest in your own comfort. Make sure to adjust the seat and steering wheel, so you can reach all the necessary controls without excessive effort and so that driving for long periods. Any source of pain or discomfort will become harder to ignore the longer you drive, to the point of actually distracting you to some extent.
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2. Never neglect maintenance
Brake pads, fluids, fuel, tires… regular maintenance is already tiresome and expensive, everyone knows it. Occasional tasks such as repairing a broken part bother even more because they are even more expensive and, in many cases, require leaving the car at the shop for some days. However, those are all consequences of owning a car. It is as simple as that.
Poorly kept cars not only have worse performance, which is directly translated into faster wear and higher fuel consumption, but also become more likely to fail on the street. According to what was mentioned in the previous question, driving at night makes it more difficult to react in case your car breaks down, and for others to see and move away from you.
We are talking about people’s lives here, so there is no room for discussion. If you cannot afford the necessary maintenance and/or repairs your car needs at a given moment, the only correct action is not to use it. Anything else will necessarily put others at risk, not to mention yourself.
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3. Plan ahead as much as possible
Refraining from alcohol if you are going to drive is the very first rule here.
It is also interesting to plan your route beforehand. The internet can help a lot with that, especially if you live in a big city. It is possible to research not only the shortest path but also which roads to avoid because of excessive traffic. In some cases, you can even get informed of accidents and/or other problems on the road with enough time and space to find an alternative path.
Finally, while we cannot be prepared for everything, we can at least know how to ask for help in case we ever need it. It is wise to keep note of all contact forms for assistance, such as emergency numbers, insurance services, and trusted people. Keep those notes as accessible as possible: in a storage area of the cabin, on your phone, in your memory… nothing is excessive in this regard.
Who Shouldn’t Drive at Night?
Basically, anyone who is not in proper conditions. That includes permanent cases, like people whose capabilities have been reduced; temporary cases, like when you are going through intense emotions or anticipating situations where you have to make a decision, such as when you decide to attend an event where there will be drinking.
1. People with reduced capabilities
Once again, there is no room for discussion when it comes to people’s lives. It is certainly sad for any person to admit that their sight, hearing, and/or mobility are no longer suitable for driving. However, to put it in simple terms, it would definitely be sadder for that person to become responsible for someone’s death because of a bruised ego.
2. People with high level of stress
Sometimes, we are simply not in an appropriate mood for driving. Too much stress, or intense emotions of any other type, tend to make us continuously think of the cause of the problem. Since driving quickly becomes a habit for most people who own cars, we take it for granted and allow our thoughts to go away from the road.
Driving with such a reduced level of focus is a recipe for disaster even during the day, let alone with all those additional issues that appear at night. When you feel that way, it is much safer to get a taxi or use a ride-sharing app.
3. People who want to drink
The term “designated driver” has become a part of popular culture for the simple reason that people like to drink. And, if it is done in moderate amounts, there is actually nothing wrong with it. Problems only appear if you try to drink and drive.
If you are going out in a group, the small gesture of agreeing on one person not to drink goes a long way. On the other hand, if you know you will be driving alone, regardless of the time, the risks involved should be more than enough to persuade you to make the correct decision.